Beware the double standard by recognizing the ways in which it has failed our society. SlenderChance focuses on the notorious Slender Man stabbing, and Morgan Geyser. This now infamous case has been widely covered both locally and nationally, and is featured in HBO’s newest documentary release by Irene Taylor Brodsky “Beware the Slenderman“. Much can be ascertained from delving into the SlenderChance blog, as well as the Journal Sentinel of Wisconsin, yet while the specifics of this case are of vast personal importance to those directly involved, the deeper seated issues have reverberations that touch us all!
Why do we as a society require a person to be 18 years old to purchase and consume tobacco? This law exists because we have deemed those under 18 incapable of making a well informed decision concerning their health. The same can be said about voting: we have deemed those under 18 incapable of making responsible decisions concerning who governs our country. We refer to the aforementioned people as “children”, and those 18 and older as “adults”, and this designation has far reaching legal ramifications. Rolling it back even farther, we have laws in place ensuring that anyone under the age of 16 cannot operate a motor vehicle alone, for similar reasons. So we must wonder why Wisconsin law allows a barely 12 year old child to be tried as an adult for a non-fatal stabbing. On its own this seems clearly inconsistent, but when paired with a child suffering from early onset paranoid Schizophrenia, it seems preposterous. We have determined that she is a child and cannot be responsible for driving, smoking or voting, but she CAN be held responsible, as an adult, for a mental illness induced stabbing? Should we then allow Morgan Geyser to drive a car, buy cigarettes, and vote for the president too?
Numerous motions have been filed, and many letters written in an attempt to convince Judge Michael Bohren that Morgan Geyser should be tried as a child and remanded to juvenile custody, but he has held fast. Tod Haller of Fox 9 (KMSP) in neighboring Minnesota explains, “In Minnesota, this only happens when someone is at least 16 years old and they’re charged with first-degree murder. But in Wisconsin, they only have to be 10 years old — it applies to a few types of murder charges including attempted first-degree murder, which the girls are charged with in the “slender man” case.” Nevertheless Morgan Geyser’s lawyer Anthony Cotton soldiers on, and recently won a motion to have Morgan and Anissa Weier’s cases tried separately. Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel explains, “In their long statements to investigators, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier have each implicated the other as more culpable for certain aspects of the incident or made statements inconsistent with the other girl, such that it would be difficult to handle evidence prejudicial to one of the defendants if both were on trial together.” (Separate Trials Ordered…) Both girls have entered pleas of “not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect”.
Most importantly, motions have been filed to suppress the potentially incriminating statements that were made by the mentally ill Morgan subsequent to her arrest, during a period of questionable interrogation by Detective Thomas Casey. Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel explains, “The motion suggests that Waukesha police Detective Thomas Casey began his nearly five-hour interrogation with “grooming questions intended to make (Geyser) feel more comfortable and open,” then continually minimizes the gravity and import of the conversation.” (Slender Man defense seeks to block confession) Again we encounter a strange double standard: it is legal for a child to be interrogated by police without their parents present, and questioning only stops when the child requests a lawyer, yet only an adult would know that they CAN request a lawyer. Vielmetti explains, “In a recent motion to suppress her statements, Geyser’s attorney, Anthony Cotton, characterized the questions of whether a defendant understands, then knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waives her rights to remain silent as legitimate inquiries in most circumstances. But he argues “they sound like a parody” when you replace “defendant” with “12-year-old girl with untreated early-onset schizophrenia.”‘ (Slender Man defense seeks to block confession) A decision from Judge Michael Bohren is expected sometime in early spring.
It strikes us odd at SlenderChance that as a society we are perfectly comfortable housing criminals, paying for their food, health care and education, and yet we are NOT comfortable as a society providing that up front. Similarly, we are ready to try a 10 year old as an adult in the name of vengeance and sensationalism, yet we aren’t willing to properly fund mental illness research in order to proactively address the epidemic of mental illness. Yet another double standard with far reaching ramifications. The easy route is clear: lock her up, throw away the key – out of sight, out of mind. But we believe that Morgan Geyser is the canary in the mine. The crime at the center of this case is merely the symptom; the problem is untreated mental illness. This problem does not exist in a vacuum, rather it is a problem that touches most of us. Whether we have a family member, friend, coworker, or we ourselves suffer from some form of mental illness, we recognize that it is in fact an illness. In an undiagnosed, untreated state, Morgan could not control her delusions any more than a person with cancer can control tumor growth. In an increasingly chaotic world with dwindling resources, where overcrowding is the rule not the exception, we can expect to see more and more mental illness. It is easy to dismiss until it touches down in your life, but the devastation it can create is terrifying. As a society we need to take responsibility for our own!
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”
― Noam Chomsky
We can be proactive or reactive. We have that choice. To be proactive though, we need to overhaul both the system, and the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is a tall order, which may contribute to much of the resistance. We must remember that these changes begin with individuals, and spread to the larger populace. At the heart of this issue is the perception of mental illness, because the system was founded upon these often negative and derogatory beliefs. If we expect to change the way in which we address our mentally ill constituents, then we must first change out thinking.
It is easy to think of mental illness as someone else’s problem, that is until it touches down in your life. Morgan Geyser‘s mother knows this best: Two years ago I was getting ready for bed as the laughter of three preteen girls echoed through our home. In the morning we would all have breakfast – Krispy Kreme donuts and strawberries – and then the girls would head off to the park. That was the last time our lives were normal and happy. Hug your children if you can. My daughter has been in a jail cell for two years. It is so common that the National Alliance on Mental Health now says that over 10 million adults are afflicted with a serious mental illness, nationwide. They also say that 1 in 5 adults in America will experience mental illness; that is 20% of the population!
Unfortunately the system is not prepared to deal with mental illness of this magnitude. The alternative to hospitals are prisons (although a poor one), and even our prisons cannot handle the influx. In Wisconsin, where Morgan Geyser is currently in a cell, there is an extensive waiting list for treatment. Stevens Point Journal explains, “With the surge in referrals, both facilities filled quickly, causing delays for anyone who still needs a bed. The only alternative for many in the state waiting to get in…is spending weeks in a jail cell” (Full article: Mentally ill inmates left waiting in jail). We must remember that this waiting list is for alleged criminals awaiting trial, many of whom must first prove to a judge that they are in fact mentally ill. During the interim they are left undiagnosed and untreated. Many of these individuals are awaiting trial for a crime, or crimes, committed as a result of being undiagnosed and untreated to begin with.
According to The Intercept, “The United States is the only country in the world that routinely sentences children to life in prison without parole, and, according to estimates from nonprofits and advocacy groups, there are between 2,300 and 2,500 people serving life without parole for crimes committed when they were minors” (Full Article: The U.S. is the only Country That…). Morgan Geyser (12 years old at the time) is currently facing a charge of 1st Degree Attempted Homicide, and is being tried as an adult, which comes with a sentence of 60+ years in prison. In Morgan’s case, she was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated, early onset childhood schizophrenia when the crime occurred, so she falls into both categories: a child and mentally ill.
We at slenderchance.com are looking for people to get involved! Engage by commenting on blog posts. Share this page on your social media sites. Tell the people you know, and ask them to tell the people they know. Donate with the button on the Support page – funds which cover legal fees for Morgan Geyser – and receive a complementary sticker to help promote Morgan’s cause. In an increasingly chaotic world with dwindling resources, where overcrowding is the rule not the exception, we can expect to see more and more mental illness. It is easy to dismiss until it touches down in your life, but the devastation it can create is terrifying. As a society we need to take responsibility for our own!
Inhumane conditions and poor decisions continue to mar the trajectory of Morgan Geyser’s life, as Judge Michael Bohren rules against the reverse waiver plea on August 10th, 2015. While Bohren acknowledges that Morgan Geyser will not receive adequate mental health treatment if she ends up at Taycheedah Women’s Prison when she turns 18, he maintains that moving the case to juvenile court will “unduly depreciate the seriousness of the offense” (Journal Sentinel). In defense of his ruling, Bohren further stated, “There has to be assurance to the public — and to these defendants as well — that a serious offense has to be dealt with on a serious basis that offers protection to everyone” (Journal Sentinel). For my more adept readers, there seems to be an inherent contradiction here: Bohren recognizes that Geyser will not receive adequate mental health treatment if tried as an adult, yet maintains that his ruling “offers protection to everyone”.
This is not the first incidence of hypocrisy in the Slender Man case. Both in and outside the court the facts have continually been obscured, and in some instances entirely misrepresented! For instance, during the August 10th ruling, Bohren stated that Morgan is refusing medication. In fact Morgan has not been offered medication over the ensuing 15 month period of incarceration. Morgan has maintained that she does not want her “friends” to go away, so does this mean that she is refusing medication? It would seem that is Bohren’s interpretation, and his conclusion follows: why offer her medication at all, she has implied that she would refuse. By this logic one could surmise that if a person is fasting and starving, then why even offer them a meal? Morgan is in fact starving, albeit mentally! She is being held in isolation and has very limited contact with humans. She has no access to the outdoors, no windows, no physical contact with her family. She is also being denied medical treatment. She is cold and hungry. If a parent treated their child in such a way they would be arrested for abuse.
Again Bohren recognized and stated that these conditions are unacceptable, which is why he ordered “visits and recreation” at the Waukesha Juvenile Center. On the surface this sounds good, but as in the case of statements concerning Morgan’s “refusal” to accept medication, the reality is much different. These “visits” occur every two weeks, and last only two hours. “Recreation” seems to just be a word, as she is not allowed any recreation during this time, and is not allowed to spend ANY time outdoors. As we begin to see the bigger picture, we should not be surprised that this child is desperately lonely, and can turn only to her “friends” for company. Which brings us to the elephant in the room: paranoid schizophrenia.
Bohren’s willingness to acknowledge that Morgan is suffering from a severe illness — childhood onset paranoid schizophrenia — while simultaneously refusing to treat it as the mitigating element that it is, leads us to draw questionable conclusions about his character. He is either more interested in retribution and public opinion, or he lacks a full understanding of the disease that Morgan Geyser suffers from. In his oral ruling he “kept coming back to the disturbing, premeditated nature of the crime, an offense he described as, ‘frankly, vicious'” (Journal Sentinel). For those who posses a greater knowledge of paranoid schizophrenia, this defense is thin. A person suffering from paranoid schizophrenia is quite capable of premeditation, as discussed in the National Institutes of Health Library of Medicine, “Violence due to a mental condition such as schizophrenia is considered medical, but even aggression motivated by delusions or hallucinations can also be characterized as impulsive, premeditated, or compulsive.” It is further suggested, “Assessment of a violent act committed by an offender with schizophrenia typically focuses on whether the act was due to distortions in thought or perception, i.e., delusions or hallucination”. And yet, the now 13 year old Morgan Geyser, who suffers from debilitating delusions which provoked the non-lethal yet tragic event, faces inhumane conditions.
We must ask ourselves if Judge Michael Bohren is truly interested in a decision that “offers protection to everyone”? Deeper still we must wonder if his goal is actual justice? In fact his ruling has grave consequences for Morgan Geyser, “The teens face dramatically different treatment because of the judge’s decision. Children tried as adults face longer sentences and fewer resources while incarcerated, and they’re more likely to be assaulted in adult prisons than juvenile facilities” (Huggington Post). In an increasingly chaotic world with dwindling resources, where overcrowding is the rule not the exception, we can expect to see more and more mental illness. It is easy to dismiss until it touches down in your life, but the devastation it can create is terrifying. As a society we need to take responsibility for our own, and learn to look past our emotional reactions, or what people will think of us (Judges included). We must learn to do the right thing!
I found The Paradoxical Commandments today, or perhaps I should say, that they found me. I go on a daily search for quotes which strike a chord – assemblages of words that speak to a deeper place within me! I am both encouraged and dismayed by what I find during these quote scavenger hunts. I am encouraged by the endless supply of truth and knowledge which spans the many ages of humankind, yet similarly dismayed by the chasm between our access to this information and our common practices. It often seems the case that much damage is already done before we collectively wise up and take a stand for reason and logic. We are encouraging you to take a stand for Morgan Geyser!
Another little gem I just discovered while on my daily search for kernels of truth, scattered about the digital terrain, was this Huffington Post article written by Jessica S. Henry, concerning the madness of trying Morgan Geyser as an adult, for first degree attempted homicide (read her Slender Man Article). It would seem that more mainstream voices are seeing this case for what it is: extreme injustice! As you know, there are numerous ways you can help by being Morgan Geyser’s voice, and now I have two more for you. First check out the Support Morgan Geyser page on Facebook. This is yet another voice that exists in the public arena attempting to lobby for logic and reason, with daily content pertinent to both the case and to Morgan. I also encourage those interested in the Letter Writing Pool to choose the digital option, if it works better for you, and send your letter through the Contact page. Please ensure that your “Subject” is The Honorable Judge Michael Bohren, and that you address him in “Your Message” directly, as The Honorable Judge Michael Bohren. These emails will be forwarded to her attorney, and will allow you to expedite your voice.
The Paradoxical Commandments
“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
~ Kent M. Keith
Morgan Geyser needs support! We are positing the notion that Morgan needs and deserves treatment! There is no way to undo the harm that has already transpired, but we can certainly prohibit any more from occurring. In an increasingly chaotic world with dwindling resources, where overcrowding is the rule not the exception, we can expect to see more and more mental illness. It is easy to dismiss until it touches down in your life, but the devastation it can create is terrifying. As a society we need to take responsibility for our own! Learn more about The Facts.
I was encouraged today by an article in Slate, written by Dahlia Lithwick, concerning Morgan’s Case. It would seem that there is a mainstream voice calling for reason and logic in a case clearly riddled with madness! There is a strong and prevalent push to treat this 12 year old child as a competent adult, and very little credence is being paid to her now diagnosed, yet untreated schizophrenia. As is often the case, she has and is being tried in the media. The media is demonizing Morgan in its endless effort to turn a buck from the misery of the world. It is quite clear that Morgan is mentally ill, and that this untreated mental illness precipitated the violent crime. Even the media has latched on to the figure of Morgan’s delusions, and cast it center stage, coining the phrase: the ‘Slender Man stabbing’. Lithwick’s article is the first mainstream news targeting the decision to try a mentally ill child as an adult, and while Lithwick may not know it, she is doing exactly what we are asking you to do: to speak up for Morgan!
We believe that we can be Morgan’s slender chance – her slender chance at receiving the help she needs! The easy route is clear: lock her up, throw away the key – out of sight, out of mind. But we believe that Morgan Geyser is the canary in the mine. The crime at the center of this case is merely the symptom; the problem is untreated mental illness. I also located an interesting USA Today article posing an argument against trying children as adults in the criminal court system. As most people know, scientific studies have shown that children are not developmentally capable of understanding the cause/effect of their actions in the same manner as adults, which is precisely why the juvenile court system exists. While the USA Today article does not specifically target the elephant in the living room, mental illness, it still represents a minority of journalists who are rightly questioning the Judge’s decision on March 13th.
There is only one hope, one slender chance left for Morgan Geyser, and that is the Reverse Waiver Plea. In this vein we ask that you join our Letter Writing Pool in an effort to influence Judge Michael Bohren to make the humane decision, and remand Morgan to the juvenile court system! There are many ways to get involved though! Engage by commenting on blog posts. Share this page on your social media sites. Tell the people you know, and ask them to tell the people they know. Donate with the button on the Support page – funds which will cover legal fees for Morgan Geyser – and receive a complementary sticker to help promote Morgan’s cause. Be a part of the solution, instead of the problem!
“Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.” ~ Robert Kennedy